Epidemics and the Evolution of Medicine in Iran during the XIX Century

Hormoz Ebrahimnejad


In a description of a historical case in 19th Century Persia, this article endeavours to show how changes in medical thought occurred. It argues that Medical Modernisation was apparent in the internal changes in traditional medicine. While colera was frequently recorded, as an epidemic disease, over several centuries in the Persian Medical literature, why and how it became at this period, before contact with Western Medicine, under close scrutiny by the traditional medicine. This new scrutiny is illustrated in the writings of Shirazi, a traditional court doctor, who endeavoured to describe cholera, diarrhoea and plague. In doing this, he introduced a significant change in the meanings of vaba and ta'un (generic terms attributed to any epidemic disease). Shirazi used them specificallt to mean what we understand as cholera, for the former, and plague for the latter. The internal change in traditional medical thought, together with the awakening of socio-political conscousness regarding the spread of epidemics, were the main factors clearing the path to a natural integration of Wester medicine in 19th century in Iran. 


Key words: History of Medicine - High education - Spain 

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